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In brief: Judge stays ruling on mentally ill

TACOMA – A judge in Tacoma has decided to allow mentally ill patients to be held without treatment in hospital emergency rooms for another six months while her earlier ruling that the practice is unconstitutional is considered by a higher court.

The News Tribune reported that Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson on Tuesday granted a second six-month stay of a ruling she issued in June. In that ruling, she said the practice of “psychiatric boarding” violates state and federal law by denying people with mental illness the treatment they are supposed to receive.

The boarding practice allows the state and counties to use hospital emergency rooms to house people awaiting civil commitment for mental illness.

Those patients may wait weeks or months without treatment, due to a statewide psychiatric bed shortage.

Fire that killed two called accident

TACOMA – The Pierce County fire marshal said a fire that killed a father and his 8-year-old daughter at their Fox Island home appears to have been an accident.

The News Tribune reported that Fire Marshal Warner Webb made that comment Tuesday.

He said investigators expect to know more today about the exact cause of the Dec. 4 blaze that killed 62-year-old Dr. Thomas Babson and his daughter, Alice.

Babson’s wife, June, their 12-year-old daughter Katie, and 8-year-old son Tobey survived the fire. Tobey and Alice were twins.

Fire officials have said the blaze started near the kitchen and dining room of the nearly 7,000-square-foot home.

Missing girl reportedly safe in Mexico

KENNEWICK – Police in Kennewick said a missing 14-year-old girl has talked with her mother and said she is in Mexico and is OK.

KNDO said police confirmed Tuesday that the mother of Elizabeth Romero spoke with her daughter by phone and the girl said she is in Jalisco, Mexico.

Police said there is still a warrant out for the arrest of 19-year-old Edwardo Fabien Flores Rosales for investigation of second-degree kidnapping. Officers are also looking for a second person suspected of aiding Rosales.

Investigators said Romero has family in Jalisco and her mother is working to get her daughter connected with those relatives.

Police said the girl and Rosales met through Facebook.

The girl was last seen Wednesday getting into his car.

She was the object of an Amber alert last week.

$50 million awarded over birth defect

SEATTLE – Lawyers said a King County jury has awarded $50 million to a Burien couple whose son was born with profound mental and physical disabilities after a hospital and lab failed to detect his genetic abnormalities.

Brock and Rhea Wuth sued Valley Medical Center in Renton as well as Laboratory Corp. of America in 2010. They said Brock Wuth knew he was a carrier of the condition, informed Rhea Wuth’s doctors about it and would have terminated the pregnancy had they known the fetus had it.

The couple’s lawyers argued that Valley Medical’s maternal fetal medicine clinic was understaffed, and no genetic counselor was available when Rhea Wuth had her appointment. They said a medical assistant failed to send the lab documentation of the specific genetic abnormality to look for, while the lab itself didn’t follow its own procedures by requesting more information from the clinic.

The lab never ran a test sensitive enough to detect the condition, which carries a normal lifespan but requires lifelong care.

The jury returned its verdict Tuesday.

Planners approve Amazon HQ globes

SEATTLE – City planners have approved the plans for three large globes that will be part of the new headquarters for in downtown Seattle.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reported the connected globes will range from 80 to 95-feet tall and house retail space open to the public.

They’ll be located on the same block as a 38-story Amazon office tower in the downtown area known as the Denny Triangle.